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Growing And Grounding Ourselves
February 2007

A year from now, Elea will be away on her four-month sabbatical leave of absence, contractually due after four years as Minister of FPCOG. The Sabbatical Planning Committee has been meeting for several months now to make plans for management of the Church during her absence, from January to May, 2008. Here is our monthly update.

We have reviewed the lengthy list of everything Elea does during her work week, from the mundane (picking up stray papers and miscellaneous items in the Meeting House) to the major (Pastoral phone calls and visits, preparing the weekly email newsletter, writing sermons, attending committee meetings) and everything in between. We are pondering all the ways that Elea is the 'glue' that holds our church together during the week, in addition to her Sunday service role, and we are exploring ways to keep these important functions going while she is away. We are considering which tasks can be done by volunteers from the congregation and which tasks we should hire someone to do.

We have scheduled a joint meeting of our committee with the Worship Committee and Board of Deacons in early March. We plan to discuss ideas and make decisions about how to handle Sunday services during the Sabbatical. We expect to schedule a mix of services led by paid professionals and services created by groups or individuals in the congregation. We welcome your ideas - feel free to share your suggestions with any member of our committee.

Hiring one or several substitute ministers to cover Sunday services and do the important week-day work of the church will of course cost money. We are exploring possible grant funding to supplement our own budget, but so far, what we have learned is not encouraging; it seems unlikely that we will be able to qualify for significant grants. If anyone has ideas on places we could look, please let us know! Meanwhile, it is important to recognize that the more we as a congregation put in, both as volunteer workers and as financial contributors, the more we will get out of the Sabbatical and the more successful it will be for all of us -- and the better it will be for Elea when she returns!

With that in mind, here is a special request to Committee Chairs and Members: please start now to discuss Elea's Sabbatical at your committee meetings. We want to know the ways your committee's work will be affected by Elea's absence, so we can help you make appropriate plans.

Our committee is drawing freely on the resources and experiences of our neighboring UU churches. Recently, two of us (Becky and Donna) journeyed to Harvard, MA to attend a Sunday service and workshop, a few weeks after the Harvard minister's sabbatical began. The focus of the morning was on promoting personal growth and renewal for the congregation while their minister is away. We came home energized and encouraged by the excitement and vitality that we saw there. This was an excellent model for us in our goal of making Elea's sabbatical a time of reflection and spiritual renewal for the whole congregation. We will continue exploring ways of creating this kind of Growing and Grounding Ourselves experience for our congregation.

We welcome your thoughts as we plan for this important experience in our church life.

Becky Pine, Chair
Donna Allen
Karen Johnson
Melinda Green
Steve Lieman
Karen Goudey
Alice van Ormer
Elea Kemler

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1 Powder House Road … P.O. Box 457 … Groton, MA 01450-0457 … 978-448-6307 …   …  

Most recently updated 2007-01-26